Not that Kind of Ghurl

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The prettiest book cover, art and lay out I’ve ever had seen and touched, no kidding.

In the first two years of Lena Dunham’s HBO show Girls, everyone wanted to be like her. She’s an auteur after all, unafraid, and bold, doing her thing on her own. Years later, and one racial controversy over, her show is about to end and many young girls like me who have cried over the season finale of the first two season, fantasized about the independence and life in New York, listened to the soundtrack she curated, have moved on to other female role models like Beyoncé or Emma Watson. As for me, it’s Mindy Kaling.

I’m not saying she’s no longer famous or relevant. I’m also not saying that I have forgotten about her. I’m saying this in the context of my friends who have loved her and had moved on to more lesser known specimen and heroes but stronger, especially when we had delved deeper into feminism and the first ones who were there and weren’t part of Taylor Swift’s cult called the ‘squad.’

Ever since her book came out, I’ve always wanted to get one of my own. I even marked it as ‘must-buy’ in my GoodReads shelves to remind myself to buy my own copy. Some part of me thought that it was going to be some kind of Bible for me even if it was all about being a woman (which to me translated to as a ‘coming-of-age’).

Then, three months in America and being a patron of a library district, I passed by a copy of this book, sitting at the bottom of the shelves, its pink font popped out of its dull-colored neighbors. Add to that is Pulitzer Prize critic Emily Nussbaum’s tweets regarding the newly improved season of Girls. So yeah, I took this book out and ran for the car after two weeks of contemplating and finishing the books I borrowed before.

Not That Kind of Girl isn’t as relatable as the other female celebrity/TV bosses memoirs that I’ve read: Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, and Tina Fey (and soon, Schumer’s!). It’s very different. It’s not like talking to a cool best friend like all the other books I’ve mentioned. It’s more ‘literary’ if there is such a thing, bordering on fiction with a dash of experimental, and lists.

I’ve figured that Dunham’s memory isn’t as sharp as the stories she narrated from her three year old self. In fact, she is, as she had proclaimed in her book, an unreliable narrator. And to be honest, I don’t think we should really care. I do think she ‘remembered some things in an artistic way’ (this is a Lady Gaga reference, Youtube Marry the Night). At one point in every memoir, or in writing one, we become unsure if we’re recreating a memory with imagination or telling it as it is.

The thing is: creative nonfiction is not at all concerned with the purity of the truth. If it is, we’ll just look at the person’s Wikipedia page. It is about rather how truth is manipulated and manufactured to tell a story, an entertaining and insightful yet honest one. Absolute truth does not exist, people. So no, I don’t think we should concern ourselves with Dunham’s ability to remember something so specific when she was so young and to debate about it further. Reading nonfiction requires trust. Trust that the writer was honest and the reader as accepting and open.

Now this isn’t a review. I don’t like boxing myself into a ‘review’ and I don’t think a review is never personal. And I don’t think I’m good at it either. So I’m treating this blog entry as a reflection to her book with a few of my favorite excerpts.

Okay, many people keeps complaining about how much information Dunham relays unto its twentysomething and younger readers like me (I’m 19!). People complain about that the book was all about her white privileged life and her petty problems. Though I do agree with them bitches who gave one-star reviews, I’d like to defend Dunham by saying first, “fuck you.” Second, how much information a person gives to you is very subjective. The concept of ‘too much information’ is dangerous because most of the time the ‘information’ is taboo or graphic. Dunham doesn’t care if you don’t like her struggles with being the least best bulimic or if you think that she molested her one-year old sister when she opened her vagina (she was only seven and curious!).  The concept of too much information can be used as a weapon to silence something someone has wanted to talk about but had no one to talk about it. And we do need to talk about some things. We need to talk about rape openly because it isn’t embarrassing and it is not your fault. And she does all this, feminism and all, with her auteur shitness, in her own tiny voice.

I think stories that are filed under ‘too much information’ are stories that aren’t well-written enough to be interesting. Though at some points, in Lena Dunham’s memoir, there are uninteresting parts like her discussion of her various therapists (this is totally subjective) or her listing of her health concerns, it may have been interesting to others.

I find the chapter “Grace” to be my favorite. Her relationship with her sister is delightful to see. I wanted to see Lena be with someone who is both a friend and family and I did. Most often than not, siblings are allies. You can talk to them like a friend and you’re always with them like family.

The thing with me reading this book is that I forgot the best parts or the terrible parts of the entire book and I just finished it two hours ago but I felt like I’ve grown to love inside Dunham’s little world in a deeper way. Unlike how I read books and remember the funny parts of the book or the worst parts—compartmentalized, reading this book helped me to understand her as a whole person, though irritating at times.

I gave this book for three stars for helping me become a bigger person, in helping me see another person’s perspective, even if it’s some white fish’s. (Tangerine reference)

 

 

 

 

 

Brooklyn and Theon Greyjoy’s Search for Home

Two nights ago, around 11PM in the night, I finally finished A Clash of Kings and two Fridays ago, the movie Brooklyn just in time for me to root for it during the Oscars. And both were freaking marvelous. So this entry is some sort of review / reflection to the concepts of home found in both media, most of what I’m going to share is probably based on my Modern Asian Lit class and the paper I wrote for said class which was to me the best paper I’ve ever written.

The 1000-paged sequel to the A Game of Thrones is my comeback to reading. I wanted something to help me with my reading drought so I committed to the longest one I have in my bookshelf. This way reading becomes some kind of routine and the writing would be the same unlike when I read different books with different writing styles, tones, and techniques which is confusing and tiring.

It’s an exciting world that George R. R. Martin paints, it’s the entire country of different aspects of it-from gender, social class, and jobs. Successfully, Martin narrates the lives of the very different characters in bright light and development. Though there were times the descriptions were too much, it was part of the experience.

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My favorite characters in both tv and book is Sansa and Catelyn Stark or at least some parts of their personality. Most found Catelyn annoying but when she recalled her experiences as a mother, it breaks my heart. The actress who plays Sansa Stark, Sophie Turner helped me visualized the silent Sansa. I’ve rooted for her in the later seasons. Her adventures, though minimal and less bloody unlike Arya’s, are dangerous enough to have cost her life. Her wits and a lot of luck have helped her along the way. And Sophie Turner’s goddamn gorgeous.

Speaking of Arya, her adventures could stand alone. Sometimes they’re boring especially the later ones but she is important. I feel like she is but at the moment she is not. She feels like a filler. Sometimes I feel like we could remove her from the books and the other characters would stay the same. I even wonder if she has a large role in the main plot but in the last six seasons of TV, she doesn’t. I wish we could get a character’s adventure compiled from book 1 to 5 into one novel, though I know most of it would not make sense, I’d like to have that option.

Okay, now let’s go to Theon Greyjoy. If you didn’t read the books, here’s a little history. He was born in the Iron Islands, taken by the Starks as a ward to keep the Greyjoy rebellion hushed when Theon was ten. Though Theon was raised like a Stark, it’s basically kidnapping, and Theon had no choice but to be a leverage against the Greyjoys. If the Greyjoys do something rebellious, their prince would be killed.

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He grew up in Winterfell then, spending the most important part of your life – puberty – in a land where you’re supposed to call it home. Maester Luwin would educate you the maps and history and teach you how to read. You’d know the godswood, the entire kingdom of your father’s enemy, which to you is your new home with Robb who treats you like a brother. You’d feel at home but it isn’t really yours.

Then, Theon goes home for the first time to the Iron Islands since he was ten and it becomes very difficult. He is no longer the same. He does not wear what Ironborns wear, as his sister laughingly pointed out. He does not recognize its culture of We Do Not Sow, of its preference to durability than beauty. He tries to impress his unfamiliar father and fails. He is both an outcast to where he was born and where he grew up which is terrible and he tries so impeccably to impress both places and fails.

When he comes back to Winterfell to invade it, he is not loved. He is hated. Though he grew up there, those who helped him grew up did not love him. Not because he invaded it. Well, partly. But it is because he is a Greyjoy which required Theon to impress his father by invading Winterfell. And he failed both miserably…

Similar to this is Brooklyn, the Oscar-nominated film directed by John Crowley which tells the story of a young beautiful Irish who moves to Brooklyn played by Saoirse Ronan in search for a better life. She is polite, homesick, ambitious, and hard-working. As was the techonology during the 1950s, there was no Facetime or Snapchat to help you recognize and remember what home looked like. There is no closure once you moved to the city especially into the eccentric and lovely New York City, only sepia pictures and memories.

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One of my favorite parts is the contrast between Eilis (Saoirse Ronan’s character) and another woman who tells her the do’s and don’ts in the ship that they came in. She prepares her for Brooklyn, an unknown territory, which that woman had already frequented, making her up and advising her not to cough ever on the immigration desk. And then, in the last scene, she then becomes that woman as a newbie to Brooklyn asks her about it. It was a full circle, character development and all. And it was very well-written.

Along the way, she falls in love to Tony, an Italian plumber who captivates her heart and mine. I’d like to think he is a metaphor for the love that she cultivated in Brooklyn. She loved him and she needed to come back to him. (Sidenote: their love story is gahhhh!!)

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When she comes back to Ireland because of something I won’t spoil, everyone whispers and everyone wants to know what America was about. Similar to Theon Greyjoy, she became a different person when she comes back. An example is the swimming suit, as her friend had noticed. She wore a yellow one-piece which is new and beautiful. She is torn between two worlds and she no longer belongs to one. She knows she is both two and she should go back to Brooklyn and to Tony, the life she slowly built on her own, not one she had been handed to. And it makes total sense.

My take on both of this is to adjust as I’m in a new home myself. Or that we’re going to be in constant search of a home. Or that maybe a person is a home. Or a group of people. Or a state of mind.

People always tell me to never change wherever I go and it’s problematic because the only way we could all survive is to adapt, to stretch ourselves over the land. We’re all going to be in different places in the world, in doing so, we’re going to lose ourselves and question who we are to be. People will question who you were and why you became the ‘idealized’ past version of you.

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But the thing is, we just have to be the best version of ourselves. It’s cliche but it works.Be in complete chaos of yourself. Forget about labels. Irish-American? Iron-born Winterfelli? Be everything all at once. As my friend had once said, why are we so afraid of chaos?

Pictures aren’t mine. Take the credit.

The Patrick Awards!

I’m a huge arts and culture junkie, meaning I consume lots of media: books, tv, films, and music. And I’m here to discuss which made my year extremely better.

MUSIC

BEST NEW ALBUM

  • Honeymoon by Lana Del Rey
  • Empire Vol. 1 by Various Artists
  • 10,000 Forms of Fear by Sia
  • Emotions by Carly Rae Jepsen
  • Beauty Behind the Madness by The Weeknd

Nope, 25 by Adele did not made the list because it was a horrible one. There are a few tracks that stood out but I’d prefer 21 and 19 over 25 any other day.

SONG OF THE YEAR:

  • Bitch Better Have My Money by Rihanna
  • Take Me to Church by Hozier
  • Electric Love  by BØRNS
  • High by the Beach by Lana Del Rey
  • Somebody by Natalie La Rose ft. Jeremih

Played Somebody for more than 100 times in one day. It was an addicting song and still is.

TV

BEST NEW SHOW

  • Mr. Robot
  • Transparent
  • Master of None
  • Empire
  • Sense8

The sci-fi show is about 8 individuals around the world who share some kind of skills and can communicate with each other.

BEST OLD SHOW

  • Saturday Night Live
  • Orange is the New Black
  • The Amazing Race
  • American Horror Story: Hotel
  • Breaking Bad
  • The Mindy Project

Despite critics, the show’s third season was the show’s best. The first two episodes of the fourth one are really good as well. The sad winter finale was also a very great one. With 13 episodes left, I hope the show could gather more fans that it could. It is so underrated.

MOVIE

BEST PICTURE

  • Before (trilogy) by Richard Linklater
  • Spy
  • Birdman by Alejandro Inarriut
  • The Matrix by The Wachowskis
  • The Imitation Game
  • Mad Max: Fury Road by George Miller

Damn, watched this twice consecutively and another a week later. Too cool, man. One for the books.

BOOKS

  • Looking For Alaska by John Green
  • Howl & Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg
  • Edad Medya: Mga Tula sa Katanghaliang Gulang by Jose F. Lacaba
  • The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
  • Histories by Charlie Samuya Veric
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • Leche by R. Zamora Linmark
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • In Praise of the Stepmother by Mario Vargas Llosa
  • Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling

Girl stepped it up and made it as warm and funny as her first book. Bitch deserved more.

 

Favorite Reads of 2015

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As with my listing down movies, this selection of books: whether poetry, short story collection, novel or play published in the country, out-of-the-country or outer space this year, last year or in 1600s, is only about the books I’ve liked that I read this year. If you want to suggest for 2016, comment below. I’ve started the 75 book challenge for 2016.

One sad thing happened to me last year: I have read the least number of books that year than the past five years when I started reading book after book. I thought to myself that it was okay. My social life is better and it is my last year in school and I’m extra busy with my thesis. Anyway, the following are nominated for The Patrick Awards, an award I give to books because if Nobel and Mr. Man Booker do, Patrick does too. It’s basically my favorite read this year. The winner will be announced in a separate blog entry together with TV, Music and Films.

In the order that I read them, I present to you, 11 that I have rated in GoodReads with five stars:

  • Looking For Alaska by John Greenlooking-for-alaska

One of the things I’ve loved about it is the unforgettable character that is Alaska Young which became an iconic figure in young adult literature. She is spontaneous, mysterious, and in-the-moment, hopefully a spot-on description of me someday. This debut novel by John Green is action-packed and philosophical at its core, rising debates whether this was John Green’s best work when he has not yet entered the mainstream/ pop culture via The Fault in Our Stars which I loved equally as this. I have not read every John Green so I could not decide just yet.

  • Howl & Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg

howlThe titular poem which comprises half of the booklet is perhaps the chant of this generation’s ‘angel-headed hipster:’ I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by darkness… I personally memorized the first five lines. In the wake of Kill Your Darlings and also Howl (where James Franco stars as Ginsberg), I fell in love deeply with Ginsberg and his newly found rhythm to which he owes to Walt Whitman, my other beloved poet. I don’t think there is as anything as powerful as Ginsberg’s depiction of New York City in the night and the madness and darkness of it all.

One of my favorite lines includes: “with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls‘”

  • Edad Medya: Mga Tula sa Katanghaliang Gulang by Jose F. Lacabaedad-medya

My love for Filipino poems written in Filipino is only recent. From last year’s Dili’t Dilim by Michael Coroza to this year’s Edad Medya. I borrowed it in the university library so I had only less than a week to finish it and I did. It’s humorous, lyrical, and in the tradition of Coroza’s poetry relatable as it tackles mid-life crisis and life in the Philippines in general. Also, note that the copy I read is donated by National Artist Nick Joaquin so he had once held it and that’s extra special.

 

  • The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler

vagina-monologuesBefore watching it on stage, in celebration with Women’s month, I’ve decided to read after one thoughtful close friend of mine gifted it. Despite the terrible reviews I’ve been reading now about it, I have to approximate how much it changed me to defend why it got five stars from me. First of all, it is true. Vagina, when said in public, is a taboo. People have hid it, calling it other names. And that’s misogynistic. It’s a body part of the female body. Second, it narrates different experiences of women all over the world including the Philippines. It gives us this global view, though not totally, of women all in different aspects of their lives. Lastly, it is play about moving forward. About changing lives. And I like that. There’s something about the desire to change the world that makes a person whole or fulfilled. The pure, unadulterated desire to do it.

  • Histories by Charlie Samuya Veric

I’ve only realized now how diverse the genres are this year compared to last year’s list of novels and a poetry collection, and its origin. This was a required reading for our class and it was delightful. I loved every poem inside it. I have chosen to discuss The Brave in our paper because it seems like one of the best. Here it is: (this is not my property, it’s Veric’s and Ateneo Press). No cover is available in Good Reads yet. I have yet to scan it. It’s that new and less read (which is a good thing because it became something only my classmates can talk about).

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

gonegirlIn order to keep myself updated with what’s fresh, I decided to buy this pop culture phenomenon. It’s been mentioned in several shows and celebrity tweets so it was definitely a good decision. Little did I know that this would be my own personal Bible. Did I ever tell you the story of a guy in a mall’s bathroom who insisted that I was holding his religion’s bible? I said it was a novel. But he kept asking me what my religion was. I walked away of course but it could easily be a Bible. And we’ll call it Rosamund Pike’s cult.

The book is awesome, action-packed and fresh with the he-said she-said writing strategy. I read it because of the David Fincher movie adaptation. And to those who complain about people who only read books because they will be turned to movies the following year? Who cares if you have read it before anyone else’s? Aren’t you glad that other people read what you have read?

  • Leche by R. Zamora Linmarkleche

The only Filipino novel that made it to the list was borrowed from a classmate and read within a week. This novel poses questions that deal with the immigrant experience. What if your hometown, the Philippines is a foreign land to you, a Filipino? Are you really American because you were raised there even if Filipino traces abound? Where is home?

 

  • Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling

whynotmeHave you ever wondered who I’m trying to emulate with my incredible sophisticated sense of humor? It’s Mindy, the Queen. It is a big year for Kaling especially last year with her show’s cancellation and then revived by Hulu with a hell lot more episodes. She has struggled in Hollywood and even a million dollar book is not enough to make her underrated celebrity status to an A-list celebrity, which she deserved.

Another set of coming-of-age stories which I myself never ran out of are all in here as well like the first book in 2010. This book is my go-to book whenever I’m sick. If I’m going to the emergency room, I have to have this book with me because hospitals are boring as hell.

  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

yasSpeaking of Indians, I wrote a paper on The Namesake for my Modern Asian Literature class. I talked about the problems that rise in the Indian immigrants and the second-generation of immigrants. The Namesake represents a lot of things but it is probably ultimately about the cultural hegemony that no matter how much you retain your Indian-ness, American culture is stronger—alienating and confusing.

Every chapter of the book especially the first ones make my heart swell. My favorite scene is the baby ritual of eating solid food for the first time—it was so adorable.

  • In Praise of the Stepmother by Mario Vargas Llosastepmama

This short novel or probably a long short story or a novella has a language that is to die for. Llosa writes like the words are water. Each word is very easy to swallow and it’s intimate and refreshing. The plot is about a 10-year old boy who seduces his stepmother. There is a rather huge twist in the last chapter of the book so you must read it all. It could easily be read in one-sitting. As for my case, a hundreds of sitting. I’ve read most of it while commuting here in the traffic-congested city of Manila.

Now, that I’ve told you my 2015’s best read books. Can you guess who will win The Patrick Awards? Stay tune, my love.

 

 

Super Secret Projects

An old Facebook profile picture circa 2011 during my Chris Brown era when I was still not a feminist
An old Facebook profile picture circa 2011 during my Chris Brown era when I was still not a feminist

PAST (partially finished like 10% finished and never again will be brought back to in-progress):

– a supernatural horror novel about a guy who could dream-predict murders. In the end, he had to kill himself to save somebody and return to life on the next day.

– Gossip Guy, a Gossip Girl spinoff about the scandalous privileged Manhattan teenagers.

-Eternal Cloud, slightly similar to The Fault in Our Stars inspired by Twilight (this begun my writing circa 2nd year in High School). This is also what’s written on our high school class legacy as the book that will define my literary career.

-a mystery teen drama called The Social Circle Mysteries, a cross between Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars. P.S. you could read the first three chapters in Wattpad. It wasn’t a hit though unlike the others.

-an incredible funny essay about growing up as a child with music using the space of the shower as tool. This won an award, y’all! I certainly loved this piece of work. All of my quirkiness in one short essay.

-The Daily Patrick, now unavailable but saved every book, movie, TV review, poem in my e-mail

-a short story (the very first in college) about a boy haunted by a white lady who turns out to be Jesus Christ (I had a born-again Christian phase for four years OK?). This made up of more than ten pages.
PRESENT

-short story in English about a Filipino boy who befriends a dragon he could only see. This was a requirement in my Creative Writing class. Up to now, it feels unfinished and unpolished.

-a novel about a cripple falling in love with a simple girl but turns out she was mysterious and stalkerish. Might give you some details but I want you to buy the book later in my life instead. This is my entry to the mainstream world. I hope this gets picked up as a TV series though.

-a novel about a teenager named Blue who tries to stop a bar from closing. This one I’m very proud of and very recent. It’s a hybrid of Skin, Shameless and My Mad Fat Diary. Also TV material.

-this blog
FUTURE

-a humorous and smart memoir of my first 10 years in the showbiz and Hollywood and New York

-a book containing all of my magazine covers and some paintings of me with different and subtle interpretations

-two acclaimed poetry collection written in Filipino with National Artist Rio Alma’s and my close friend James Franco’s blurb at the back

-another memoir which turns out to be a NYT bestseller about my rags-to-riches memoir as an immigrant in the U.S. and my travel exploits that will be released the year I’m going to die (let’s be poetically superstitious and say that it’s when I’m 49)

-a TV series wherein after the opening credits, my name would be at the center of the frame: “created by Patrick John”

-two movie screenplays that acquired a 60% or above rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 1) an American Beauty-ish kind of film with Lana del Rey as the lead 2) a pornographic art film (somehow much more risqué than Blue is the Warmest Color and artsy) which is going to be the trend by 2023.

-a blog like this beautiful and free. Possibly a foot fetish blog.

-lastly, a collection of stories by my friends and family about my 50 years being alive of course and how I changed their lives and legacy that will be released on the day of my funeral where the party will happen. In this way, many people would understand and see my different perspectives and unique relationships as a whole.  This is way too egoistic but I like this idea.

And that’s it. That’s everything you have to know about my writing life.

Update: I think I’m 10 pages in my memoir. Will look for a publisher and an agent who can get me a multimillion dollar book deal. This was written months ago but only posted now. I’m also very busy balancing my social life and my academic endeavors and of course, catching up with my favorite tv shows.